Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz
Saturday 10:30 P.M. ET
Free NBA Pick: Rockets ATS
Best Line Offered: 5Dimes
The Rockets are pretty much scoring at will against Utah, but the potent offense isn’t Houston’s only formula for success. The Rockets have taken a 2-0 series lead over Utah by clamping down on the defensive end. Going into Game 3 against the Jazz on Saturday, Houston has done everything it has needed to do defensively to take control of this first-round series. The Rockets have allowed Utah to score just 94.0 points per game and shoot 39.4 percent from the field in the two losses. The Jazz are just 15-for-65 from 3-point range in that two-game stretch.
Some struggles on offense for the Jazz start with the defensive pressure placed on Donovan Mitchell. Houston has kept Mitchell from making plays during critical junctures. He is shooting only 32.4 percent from the floor in the series — including 4-of-15 from 3-point range. Mitchell is averaging just 15.0 points over two games against the Rockets.
Utah hasn’t been able to deflect attention from Mitchell because the team’s outside shooters are struggling to find a rhythm. The Jazz aren’t in panic mode going into Game 3, though, because they are getting the looks they want.
No one has been more locked in for the Rockets than Harden himself. The reigning MVP is averaging 30.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 10.0 assists in the series so far. He earned his third career postseason triple-double in Game 2 after tallying 32 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. During the regular season, Harden averaged 33.5 points on 46.6 percent shooting against the Jazz. It dipped to 22.0 points on 42.9 percent shooting in two losses to Utah. The potential for stopping him is there, but the Jazz haven’t figured out the right formula.
Utah tried to limit Harden from driving into the paint in both games. He simply responded by hanging back on the perimeter and draining a flurry of outside baskets or kicking to open teammates inside and outside. The Jazz simply do not have the personnel to properly defend James Harden on the perimeter and for that are at a serious disadvantage in this series. Utah was only 21-19-1 ATS at home this season and there lack of dominance in Utah leaves them vulnerable to facing an 0-3 deficit. For this reason, for our NBA picks we will take the Rockets +2 (-109) at 5Dimes.